Filed in Zen (Chan), Koans

Fairy Tales and Zen Riddles

Storyteller Rafe Martin discusses the transformative and guiding power of myth with Joseph Sorrentino.

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© Dennis Clouse

Rafe Martin was born into the perfect training ground for a storyteller. He grew up immersed in told stories, hearing his father’s tales of flying dangerous rescue missions in the Himalayas during World War II, fairy tales read aloud by his mother, and his Russian-Jewish relatives telling entrancing, often hilarious, stories about their lives. His early exposure to stories about Asia, his reading of Alan Watts and other Buddhist authors, and a chance meeting with Allen Ginsberg in a bar in Greenwich Village fueled his interest in Zen practice. In the late ’60’s, Martin found himself becoming disillusioned with graduate school at a time when the Vietnam War and social unrest were peaking. “I made a vow to myself in graduate school that if things got really bad, I’d go practice Zen,” he said.

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